Michael, Expert by Experience

Living with gambling addiction: What can the financial services industry do to help?

6 January 2022

Most people have the view that gambling addicts are scruffy, older men sitting in betting shops all day spending their pennies on the horses and dogs. After experiencing gambling addiction for over 10 years and meeting many people struggling with this awful illness, let me tell you it affects everyone from all walks of society. With the increasing ease and social acceptance of online gambling and advertising in our lives, nobody is immune from this illness.

我是迈克尔,一个正在康复的赌博成瘾者,他几乎把所有的东西都输在了赌博上——如果我们不是在2020年3月陷入封锁,我怀疑我还会在这里写这个博客。我的成长环境很好,受过高等教育,有一份很好的工作;这是我为数不多没有输于赌博的事情之一。在我30多岁的时候,我应该想要安定下来,买我的第一套房产,并展望未来。相反,在我花掉了大量的积蓄,并申请了各种无法偿还的信用贷款后,我面临着向多个债权人偿还数万英镑的债务。在11个账户违约之后,我向所有的债权人坦白了,我有一年的时间来偿还我的债务。

Putting on the brakes

就像许多疾病一样,你永远无法治愈赌博成瘾。你永远与这种疾病生活在一起,我现在用类似于我长期存在的精神健康问题的方式来处理这种疾病——我希望写这个博客是一种方式,我希望它能帮助别人不要与赌博业发生冲突,因为赌博业对你的幸福和你的结局毫无兴趣。只要他们继续拿走你的钱,他们就不在乎。随着2005年赌博法的审查正在进行中,这是一个关键的时刻,政府干预,以阻止一个失控的行业。

I have been impressed with the response from the financial industry since I wrote to them all explaining my situation, and the excellent support I continue to receive from the NHS-funded National Gambling clinic. Immediately all interest was frozen on my accounts and I agreed manageable payment plans with each of my creditors individually. It may be many years before I can say I’m debt-free but this plan has given me breathing space to pay them back, without stopping me from living something close to a normal life.

Could this process be made easier with one source of communication to inform all financial service providers? It took me a long time to find out who I owed credit to, due to the nature of bad credit being sold to debt collectors and even now, one financial service provider is still unable to confirm who they’ve sold the debt to and who I should be paying back.

Flexibility both ways

New financial service providers have entered the fray and disrupted the traditional high street banks. Many of these were the first to introduce gambling blocks on gambling transactions to customers. This has been a great move and unsurprisingly the traditional high street banks have generally followed suit. However, with all providers I can however still take out lots of cash from an ATM daily. I’ve asked all my financial service providers to reduce my ATM limit and they all said it’s not possible. If I’m able to increase my ATM limit with a quick phone call, surely the technology is in place to also reduce my withdrawal limit?

你看,关于赌博成瘾者,我们总能找到办法绕过金融服务提供商或赌博机构实施的限制。我们不想欺骗,但有时我们的冲动是如此无法控制;为了赌博,我们什么都愿意做。当然,个人有责任管理这些支出,但随着银行业务对客户的灵活性大大提高,个人必须考虑使用工具限制自己的消费潜力,而不仅仅是让它变得更容易。我越能够控制自己可以和不可以把钱花在什么地方,我设置的障碍就越多,能够减少我再次陷入赌博黑洞的能力。

The opportunity for change

Finally, I feel guilty that I owe financial providers so much money. While the gambling industry has taken all my money and has no ongoing requirement to support me, the financial service providers are left to pick up my problem for many years to come. The gambling industry is powerful but the finance industry is even more so. I urge them to use this review of the 2005 Gambling Act to put pressure on government and the gambling industry so that they are not left to pick up the pieces when people like me reach rock bottom.

I look forward to seeing how far reaching the changes to the 2005 Gambling Act are and encourage anyone who is concerned about their gambling to reach out for support before it’s too late.

If you’re in need of support with your gambling, you can contact the free National Gambling服务热线,24小时开放,电话:0808 8020 133。You can find more information here.

Over the last two years,Money and Mental Health has been exploring the opportunities for financial services firms to tackle gambling harm, funded by the Gambling Commission. Ourbest practice guide for financial services firmshighlights the key areas in which banks and building societies can make a difference to customers.Our 2021 conference can be watched back here.